|Lê Thị Thanh Thủy uses nylon bags to cover the vegetables to prevent insects, instead of using pesticide. — Photo tienphong.vn|
HÀ NỘI — Lê Đình Quả, 37, was born in a farmer family in suburban Hà Nội.
His parents are not well-off, but they tried their best to help Quả study in the hope he would have better future than them.
Quả graduated from university and enrolled in the Agricultural Science Institute for Coastal South Central Việt Nam.
Quả then married Lê Thị Thanh Thủy, from the central province of Quảng Bình, also a worker of the institute. They have a house in Quy Nhơn City, the central province of Bình Định and two children.
Quả received a master’s degree in 2015 and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) Việt Nam Project agreed to grant him scholarship to study for a PhD degree in Australia.
But, in the beginning of 2016, Quả and his wife shockingly decided to sell their house in Quy Nhơn City to come to his wife’s hometown in Hòa Trạch Commune, Bố Trạch District to grow safe vegetables.
Lê Thị Lời, Quả’s mother, said, “I was panic-stricken when hearing the news, and immediately went to Quảng Bình Province.”
Lời pitied Quả and his wife, Thủy, who worked hard all day on their 2.5-hectare field.
“It is their decision, so I must please them,” she said.
Quả told Tiền Phong, “To make the decision, my wife and I thought carefully after seeing the meals of many families are affected by pesticides. We wanted to do something to help the community and also help ourselves.”
Toward safe agriculture
Upon returning to Thủy’s hometown, they faced a lot of challenges.
All of the nearly VNĐ600 million (US$26,600) from selling their house in Quy Nhơn City was enough to buy a 2.5-hectare field in Quảng Bình, far from any housing.
“Seeing gravels, rocks and stones around, I felt discouraged. When my hands bled as I didn’t know how to use a hoe, I burst into tears,” said Thủy.
“But then I thought about my husband’s back being full of sweat on sunny days, I was determined to help him realise his dream,” she said.
Overcoming obstacles, Quả and Thủy successfully set up a vegetable farm without using fertilisers or pesticide.
Quả said, “Planting safe and clean vegetables, I face a lot of risks and farm productivity is lower. Expenses for net systems and biological traps to prevent insects are high. But on the other hand, the products are safe for everybody, especially children.”
It is difficult to plant vegetables on hard soil, and it is even much more difficult to sell them. At first, many people did not believe that the vegetables did not use fertiliser or pesticides. Quả and Thủy went to schools hoping teachers would understand more about safe vegetables and food safety and hygiene.
Quả and his wife also invited principals of schools to visit their farms. Soon, orders for safe vegetables from schools increased.
“Selling vegetables in schools is not only work, but also a joy,” said Thủy.
“The profit is not much, but thinking that the students can use safe and clean vegetables, we work harder,” she said.
Thủy hopes that afterwards, their products will supply kitchens of hospitals, as it will be good nutrition for patients.
When the vegetables have a stable position in the local market, Quả and Thủy intend to guide local farmers to plant safe vegetables towards safe agriculture for future generations.
Quả also plans to research planting safe vegetables on hard soil in Quảng Bình Province, hoping to expand the model. — VNS